Golden arches without the Gold?

McDonald's could lose its Solid touches in rebuild

Oct. 13, 2010

Greenfield — Could the end of Solid Gold McDonald's be near?

The company is proposing to demolish the restaurant at 5040 S. 76th St. and invest about $2 million in building a new McDonald's.

Faded glory 

As part of the plan, the new sign would not use the words "Solid Gold." Less certain, but also a possibility, is that the interior's 1950s theme - with memorabilia, unique items on the walls and life-sized mannequins - would also be gone.

"It's weathered, it's faded. … We're not 100 percent sure but we're probably going to come in with a new, up-to-date, upscale (interior)," said Ernie Masucci, president of Illinois-based McEssy Investment Co., which bought the Solid Gold McDonald's in 2007 from Jim Patterson.

Speaking at Tuesday's meeting of the Greenfield Plan Commission, Masucci noted that many of the themed items inside are in bad shape.

"I think if we keep part of it, we have to keep all of it, and all of it is not really in great shape anymore," he said.

The architect for the project would also like to start with a blank canvas.

 NOW Photo By Peter Zuzga

"We are trying to rebuild the site and provide the community with a brand new store," architect Stephen Jeske told the commission. "We're going to scrape it down to the ground and start fresh."

Masucci said McDonald's gets 68 to 70 percent of its sales through the drive-up window. The proposal would address traffic flow issues, making it more convenient for drivers, and the restaurant would feature less seating than now.

McEssy Investments operates 37 McDonald's in all.

Local landmark

Built in the 1970s, the Solid Gold McDonald's has long been something of a landmark in Greenfield.

"I'm sad that it's not Solid Gold McDonald's anymore, because I think you're missing out on that," Mayor Michael Neitzke told McDonald's representatives. "I've met people in Eagle River, Wisconsin, that say, 'We go to the Solid Gold McDonald's.' Now it's just becoming kind of corporatized."

The business has hosted high-profile events, most notably hosting numerous classic car shows, over the years.

But Neitzke said he supports the proposal because of the company's willingness to invest a lot of money, despite the economy. He, and other city officials, appreciated the franchisee's commitment to the store and to 76th Street.

Masucci reiterated the company's commitment to both the location and the community.

"The area is a vibrant area. We love being here," he said. "We want to stay here for a long, long time."

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